Health Insurance helps families avoid poverty

Sandy Johnson and her husband of one year, Mark Johnson, settled down for a late night movie. Around 1:00 a.m., Sandy noticed Mark was restless and he began grabbing at her. She turned to ask him to stop and Mark stared at Sandy blankly, unable to speak. Panicked, she asked him to smile. The right side of his face drooped and he was unable to raise his right arm.

50-year-old Mark was suffering from a stroke. And he did not have health insurance. While Sandy was able to get Mark help in time to save his life, it was the financial burden of paying for his medical expenses out of pocket that debilitated their family.

While the initial investment of health insurance can seem pricey, it can be more devastating to chance it without health insurance. Finding the right health insurance plan can save people from burrowing further into debt after an unexpected medical emergency.

Last week newspapers blared the headline: “1 in 7 now living in Poverty.” And with an increase of 43.6 million people living in poverty from 2008 to 2009, the newspaper’s concern is legitimate. For most families and individuals in poverty, the thought of affording health insurance seems impossible.

In fact, more than 45.6 million people and 8.1 million children are living without health insurance in the United States, according to the 2009 Census report. That is more than 15% of the total United States population.

The increase in poverty level is mostly blamed by the most recent recession, the longest recession since World War II.

Yesterday economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that the “Great Recession” is now over, however people, including President Obama, are skeptical about this declaration. The Associated Press quoted Obama saying that the recession and the effects of the recession are still very real for those who are struggling to find employment.

In addition to high unemployment rates, the recession has spiked a loss of employer-provided health insurance, greatly increasing the number of uninsured.

Uninsured families, and more important, uninsured children are a very immediate problem. But any plans to rectify the problem, like the controversial health care bill (or more affectionately known as Obamacare), will not go into effect until 2010. And some proponents of the health care bill believe that 90% of the United States population will have health insurance by 2019. But until then, or if the health care bill is even passed at all, families and individuals will have to figure out how to find cheap health insurance on their own.

While it seems like a daunting expense, finding cheap health insurance can be what stops people from unnecessarily plummeting further into poverty.